ILLINOIS Workers Comp Act Amendments Propose Significant Changes

The proposed changes to the Illinois Workers Comp Act were initially filed last Wednesday (Jan 5) as an Amendments to a pending Senate Bill, SB 1066, on Charitable Trusts (House Amendment 001) with another Amendment filed last Friday. (House Amendment 002). These two Amendments have the recommendations of the Executive Committee. The legislative session ended today without a vote on the Illinois workers comp reform package but the subject will probably be revisited again soon by the new legislators that are being sworn in tomorrow

Collectively they introduce some significant major changes in the law:
1) They restrict choice of physician by injured employee to only one (1) doctor and gives the employer the first choice of treating physician. (WCxKit)
2) Utilization review:  creates a presumption in favor of utilization review (UR) if treating doctor fails to respond or appeal UR decision.
3) Wage Differential: significantly limits partial wage reduction benefits to age 67 or 5 years from date of final award, whichever is later, and allows review of awards for any economic changes up to four (4) times per year.
4) Provides an overall 15% Reduction of Medical Fee Schedule reimbursements rates to pay 85% of the present Medical Fee Schedule rates as well as provisions limiting hardware charges to 25% over invoice costs minus any rebates.
5) Provides Rule 137 Sanctions (attorney's fees and costs) against clients or their attorneys for any frivolous or untrue pleadings.
6) Provides for an Intoxication defense for alcohol consumption and a presumption of impairment for blood levels of marijuana or other drugs.
7) Provides for statewide recalculation of WC premiums for premium reductions or employer premium reimbursements to reflect the new lowered medical fee reimbursement rates.
8) Creates a special Workers Compensation Advisory Board chosen by specific members of the legislature and the Governor's office.
9) Brings WC insurance regulation, non-insurance regulation and WC fraud prosecution under the jurisdiction of the Department of Insurance rather than Department of Professional Regulations.
10) Provides for special class of Employer for "personnel providers" and temporary agencies with certificates of insurance to be filed naming borrowing employers as additional insureds on any WC policies held by the temporary agency.
Four (4) additional amendments to SB 1066 were introduced today (Jan 10):
House Amendment 003 adds WC insurance oversight tracking of WC industry insurance premiums, payouts, profits and losses with issuance of annual reports by Department of Insurance;
House Amendment 004 changes the causation standard, restricts compensable claims to only where the accident is the “primary factor” in causing need for treatment.
House Amendment 005 allows unions to opt out of workers comp and allows them to choose alternative dispute resolution by mediation or arbitration under their collective bargaining agreements
House Amendment 006 adds the disclosure by all attorneys of all gifts given or remuneration paid for any client referrals to be filed with the Commission, including any gifts, any entertainment or any meal expenses.
These last four (4) additional Amendments (as best as we can tell) were all referred to the Rules Committee today (Jan 10) and only House Amendment 3 has the recommendation of the Rules Committee so far. We are still waiting on any further details from Springfield — it appears House Amendments 4, 5 & 6 all remain presently referred to the Rules Committee without further comment.
A final vote on a modified WC bill is anticipated by the end of Tuesday (Jan11) as the old legislative session soon ends and the new legislators are to be sworn in and start on the Jan 12t — it's the last hurrah for some of our outgoing legislative members.
It is our understanding the workers comp reform package is part and parcel of a trade off in exchange for new tax hikes for some of our representatives, but, we lack any formal quotable statement to that effect, although the "temporary" tax hikes and plans to borrow money to cure our current budget crisis were already announced on TV as a done deal. As we read on Senator Dillard's website, final details of tax hikes remain yet to be agreed upon; so much of the workers comp reforms remain up in the air as well. (WCxKit)
It looks like a lot of back room bartering and haggling is still going on. Track current bill status at: Current Bill Status:
Author Brad Bleakney, a Chicago workers compensation attorney, has practiced primarily in Illinois work related injury claims and related litigation. His background includes helping a major Fortune 500 company significantly reduce their workers compensation losses. Brad can be reached at Bleakney & Troiani, 1 North Franklin (2625) Chicago, IL 60606. Or; 312-541-0045; FAX: 312-541-0041.
Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

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